Children may be ready for Kindergarten when they begin to develop certain skills and exhibit behaviors that demonstrate their awareness and knowledge of their world. If the child is eager to learn and likes to name farm and zoo animals, can identify colors, and understands concepts like up and down, big and little, large and small. Their ability to listen to stories and to interpret pictures may indicate readiness for learning to read and write. A child's willingness to respond to questions, follow simple instructions, and hold a conversation are skills the child will need in Kindergarten. Clues about physical readiness include the ability to walk, clap hands, stack blocks, draw, fasten buttons, and other fine motor skills.
In Kindergarten, the child will study counting, rhyming, recognizing letters and simple words, and drawing shapes and patterns. Parents can help the child by spending time reading to them and with them. Encourage them to talk about what they have read and make trips to the library for story-time events and browsing. Preparing your child for a lifetime of reading will pay big dividends throughout their educational life and beyond.
Middle School Grades 6-8
Students are expected to be more independent and self-directed. The child will need computer skills and access to a home computer at this level. The complexity of learning material increases dramatically in these years. Deficiencies may be discovered in mathematics, reading skills, or writing skills. A child may also discover a special affinity for certain subjects, like science, literature, music, or sports.
Parents can support children best by helping them get the resources they need to overcome any problems while supporting their need to express themselves through in-depth study or extracurricular activities. Parents must also be aware of the increasing need for peer relationships and encourage the socialization of the child.
Elementary Grades 1-5
In these critical years, the child will progress from sight recognition of a few simple words at the beginning of first grade to studying American history and writing essays in the fifth grade; from simple counting exercises in first grade to geometry, fractions, and probability in the fifth; from playing tag in first grade to learning about drug awareness and changes associated with puberty in the fifth.
Parents can best serve their children by keeping abreast of the curriculum and creating a home environment where learning can best take place. Restrictions should be placed on television viewing, video games, and other passive activities in favor of sports, activities, reading, and study time. Talk to the child about school subjects of interest and use these conversations both to encourage those interests and to find areas in which the child needs help.
High School Grades 9-12
In this stage, children will assert more control over the subjects they study and where they will concentrate their efforts. Extracurricular activities may become as important as their mainstream schoolwork. They will continue to develop social relationships and must learn to balance their lives socially, physically, and intellectually.
Parents should make themselves aware of state requirements for graduation and help the child make decisions on electives that will best help prepare them for life and continued education past high school. These young adults will need the steady support of family, along with the influence of adult friends and the community for guidance. Activities should be chosen that create community involvement and foster a sense of their role in the extended community and in the world. College selection starts early, and the child must be encouraged to take responsibility for important decisions about their continuing education.